Sunday, September 21, 2008

Response to comments

Over the weekend I received a comment from a Southern California pest controller and I wish to respond. Below is his comment to my article Sub-Prime Pest Control. I had expected some comments because the home mortgage issue has so many racial overtones. That is always touchy and difficult in this country and excites the emotions. I chose to go with it anyway; because the underlying principles are the same…we just have to get past race to appreciate it.

Rick, I think you are dead wrong.
Blasting those who seek to prevent environmental damage takes us back decades. I don't know why you bring up the issue of redlining. It really sounds like you are attached to an all-out right wing agenda, ranting about the change for the positive that America has experienced. Do you want to go back to gas guzzling polluting cars and free reign for smokers. I like to breath clean air and I never enjoyed the awful smell of cigarettes on my clothing.

Anyway, getting back to pest control, I have a pest control company in southern California, Hearts Pest Management (www.heartspm.com), that is EcoWise Certified. We are very proud of this designation. We have been proud to help PCOC and NPMA move forward with green pest control alternatives. This movement is more a mentality than a dictate about how to do pest control. I have seen plenty of over application, needless applications and sloppy applications of pesticide that endangers people. The new green approach simply provides a balance to an industry and frankly the average citizen that without conscience dispensed pesticides in a manner that endangered our waterways and airways. You know it, so don't deny it!

I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Gerry, but I think that Gerry is so enrapt with going green that he misunderstands what I am saying. First off…in no way did I imply, state or wish for anyone to go back to the days when industry along with municipalities were environmentally irresponsible, polluting the airways, streams, rivers and lakes of this country, and I never discussed cigarettes, although the hypocrisy over this issue is quite remarkable. These are logical fallacies because they have nothing to do with what is really being discussed and are used as a distraction.

I grew up around the coal mines, coke ovens and steel mills of south western Pennsylvania and the resultant pollution. I know what pollution is and those who stood against that activity are to be commended. Unfortunately, the green movements are now controlled by radicals.

Then we have a fallacy of association.
Gerry comments that, “I don't know why you bring up the issue of redlining. It really sounds like you are attached to an all-out right wing agenda, ranting about the change for the positive that America has experienced.”

Why is it that when you say something that those who are green supporters don’t like you are accused of ranting in order to discredit your views, in short these are called ad hominem attacks? Let's do a little dictionary work.

Ad hominem - An ad hominem argument involves replying to an argument or assertion by attacking the person presenting the argument or assertion rather than the argument itself. It is a logical fallacy. Appealing to one's prejudices, emotions, or special interests rather than to one's intellect or reason. Attacking an opponent's character rather than answering his argument.


We might as well look up ranting while we are at it and see if that is what I did.

Ranting - “To speak or write in an angry or violent manner; rave.”


Throwing out the term “right wing agenda” is an attempt to discredit all that was said without providing any real argument or evidence. Using the term, "right wing", in this manner is also a fallacy, because those who yield it like a pick ax don’t understand the historical frame work of the term.

In the early decades of the last century socialism was becoming extremely popular all over the western world. Progressives, liberals (it didn’t mean the same thing then as it does now) communists and fascist were all part of that socialist family. The “right” wing of the socialist movement was the fascist wing, and the “left” wing were the communists, but they were all socialists. There really wasn’t a conservative movement then as we know it today. As far as an “agenda” goes, my only concern is for that which is factual.

I used the mortgage crisis as a comparison because the comparisons were too obvious to ignore. Redlining was used as a false accusation by activists and then government agents to force banks and other lending institutions to do business that was detrimental to their business (making money off of loans). There was no effort on the part of these institutions to prevent anyone from owning a home if they were qualified. These charges of redlining were false and the end result has been enormously expensive and an economic disaster and the claims that activists make about pesticides are just as false. I wish that Gerry had followed the link I provided.
Gerry goes on to say; This movement is more a mentality than a dictate about how to do pest control.

That….we at least agree on. Green is a mentality. It is in reality an ideology and not a methodology. That is what makes it so dangerous. It is indefinable. Actually it is unendingly definable depending on your particular philosophical bent. What is green pest control….In fact, I think that I can reasonably claim to do green pest control because I’m concerned about the environment. I also use the products that have been tested to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars by chemical companies, to be sure that I am protecting the environment. I can say that my programs are in fact all, by definition, green and IPM because I am concerned about the environment! Who is to say otherwise?
Gerry states; I have seen plenty of over application, needless applications and sloppy applications of pesticide that endangers people.

Who decides what is a needless or over application; the house holder; the business owner or the technician? Perhaps we should ask the anti-chemical activists when and how much pesticide should be applied? If these applications were so onerous then Gerry should have reported them.

What constitutes a sloppy application? Is it an illegal applicaton? I am sure they occur, but when we consider the tens of millions of applications that professionals make every year in every area of the country there can’t to too many or very serious misapplications, because we are not seeing any sort of devastation caused by these applications. Pest control operators have always been concerned about the environment going back to the 1850’s, and this reality has only come into question by activists who have a misanthropic agenda. In fact, you might wish to call it a “vast left wing” agenda.
Gerry ends by saying, The new green approach simply provides a balance to an industry and frankly the average citizen that without conscience dispensed pesticides in a manner that endangered our waterways and airways. You know it, so don't deny it!

This is actually two separate issues combined to confuse, although I don’t really think Gerry is attempting to do that, I believe that is how he really thinks. The new green approach is in no way a balance to the pesticide application industries. In reality it is nothing more than an effort to confuse and a step in the direction to the banning of pesticides entirely. If anyone has any doubt about it they merely have to look to Canada.

Going green in the professional application industries is separate from imposing limitations on the public. True, the average citizen is poor about reading label directions and following them. They have clearly misused products over the years, but have they really endangered our waterways and airways? The only evidence we have of this is the unfounded and misrepresented claims of activists going back to Rachel Carson. With modern testing techniques we will be able to find anything anywhere. That doesn’t make it dangerous or toxic. Presence does not constitute toxicity.

Gerry, I think that you are sincere, but I also think that you, like many of my friends, have lost sight of what is really going on. I would like to encourage you to take a look at My Book Reviews link on this page to choose some different reading material. I also would encourage you to read Jonah Goldberg’s book, Liberal Fascism, The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

I would like to add a quote from Thomas Sowell.
”Fallacies are not simply crazy ideas. They are usually both plausible and logical – but with something missing. Their plausibility gains them political support. Only after that political support is strong enough to cause fallacious ideas to become government policies and programs are the missing or ignored factors likely to lead to “unintended consequences,” a phrase often heard in the wake of economic or social policy disasters. Another phrase often heard in the wake of these disasters is, ‘It seemed like a good idea at the time.” That is why it pays to look deeper into things that look good on the surface at the moment-Thomas Sowell, Economic Facts and Fallacies”
Thank you for your comments and best wishes and I really like your website. RK

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